Monday, December 9, 2013

"Who's Talking?"

I’ve been thinking about this one for a long time.  I’m not sure I’m ready to do it.  But it appears that it’s time to try.

Let’s start with the personal.  There are days when I write a blog post and receive no comments about it whatsoever.  Should I assume then that, on that day, nobody read my blog?  From the “Reader Reaction” perspective, though unlikely – I hope – such an assumption is not entirely impossible.

This is not a plea for comments, though a few more would be gratefully appreciated, so on some tangential level, it is.  What this is really about – and in the
World of my Brain it has reverberating consequences – is “Who exactly it is that you hear from, and what percentage of the overall “all the people” do they and their opinions represent?

This issue matters, says this writer, and perhaps others as well, I just have not heard them talk about it, which, in my mind, means that either I am saying something original, or I am saying something so screamingly obvious, the rest of the world feels no need to talk about it, and to be totally honest, I can never determine which it is.

(There is also a third option.  What I’m saying has thought-provoking value, but it is not worth mentioning because what I’m talking about is never going to happen. 

“We need three quarters of the states to vote for a Constitutional amendment to abolish the Electoral College so that the less populated states will no longer have a disproportionate amount of power.  What do you say, North Dakota?  Are you in?”


In 2008, there was an usually high voter turnout, helping elect Barack Obama President of the United States.  In the 2010 midterm election, however, the extreme faction of the Republican party, that hates Barack Obama, showed up at the polls in full and passionate force, while the Obama supporters did not. 

The result was, that the Republicans won control of the House of Representatives, enabling them, in a divided government, to successfully oppose a substantial portion of the elected President’s agenda.

And therein lies the dilemma.  Because they showed up to vote, an intense and uncompromising minority now speaks for the majority of the country.  As a result, no legislation, no matter how popular – e.g., even the most benign form of control gun proposals – can get through.

Influence and control appear to be simply a question of who makes the biggest noise.  Mel Brooks once said, “We’re all talking; I’ve got the mouth! 

We’re all talking.  But the Tea Party has the mouth. 

What we are talking about here is a matter of fundamental Group Dynamics.  The most obstreperous kid in class (or in a family, or in a cabin at camp) invariably gets the preponderance of the attention. 

Where does that leave everybody else?

A guy at a party I attended recently opined, “I would say that eighty percent of the country agrees about pretty much everything.”  He may be overshooting there with the eighty percent, but theoretically, I concur. 

People on opposite sides of the political spectrum, have areas of agreement – both Right and Left, for example, believe that corporations (including Wall Street) have an inordinate amount of influence on the legislative process.  (As Jon Stewart once said, if not in these exact words, “It is not because of the Middle Class that our Tax Code has so many pages.”) 

There are certain problems that virtually all of us agree need attending to.

So why don’t we act like it?

The most proximate reason for today’s post?

I have watched the show Homeland on two occasions, for a total of maybe ten minutes.  (On the second occasion, I observed a character I did not know but who was possibly not a doctor, extracting a bullet from another character I did not know’s abdomen.  It did not substantially hold my interest.)

On “Page One” of today’s L.A. Times, there’s an article about how a barrage of social media specifically dedicated to Homeland, and once passionate on its behalf, has now turned against it. 

The newspaper article strongly suggested that TV shows can today be made or broken, not just by the buzz of critical commentary but by the mere fact that there is commentary at all. 

Quoting the article,

“Trends in social media and the sophistication of television dramas have created a new breed of Instant Response Viewer that increasingly affects how a show is perceived, to its benefit or detriment.” 

Think about that.  People writing on blogs and websites are now, if not determining, then greatly influencing the success or failure of TV shows.

My question is, the people writing in those venues?  Exactly how many of them are there?  Compared, say, to the overall viewing audience, who, by contrast, are keeping their mouths shut, and simply watching the shows?

It appears to me – and it is seriously concerning – that in a democratic country, where the majority is supposed to rule,

The majority is actually never heard from.

Which, by default, allows the (active and highly vocal) minority to rule.

How the heck did that happen?

And what can the majority do about it?

(If your answer is, “Get involved”, my answer is “We never do.”)


Lyle said...

A couple of thoughts:

a. You may not be getting as many comments as you'd like because you haven't responded to some of the comments posted.

When I first found your blog, thanks to Ken Levine, I wrote sever comments, queries. They were never answered.

I figured you were (a) too busy, (b) it was beneath you to answer common, ordinary folks, or (c) you weren't interested in my question or comment.

b. I, like many of your readers, love your stories, commentaries, anecdotes.

I share them with others on my email lists and facebook, always with author credit and the blog's address. Often, when cross-posting your 'stuff' I mention that my daily ritual is first reading Drudge Report, Mark Evanier's blog, Ken Levine's blog, and the Earl Pomerantz blog. Then I read a blog a local lady posts; she has a great grasp of the local political scene.

Reading all of these takes up to a good hour of my time, sometimes more.

c. I particularly notice those days when you don't blog. And I miss you. Sometimes we will go 3, 4, 5 days without a message from 'Earlo' and/or 'italics-man.'

d. I even notice when you make a typo or miss-spelling. Makes me feel much better knowing if a pro such as yourself can get a word wrong or commit a typo, then I can't be all bad.

e. I often find myself wondering, 'why isn't this guy still writing for tv?' You're still brilliant, funny, witty, and somewhat unpredictable.

I've decided it's little more than age discrimination. The talent is still there . . . it's just younger 'powers that be' that have decided only folks in their age category can possibly have the wonderful wit and wonder to write to and for today's tv audience.

(I also would like to see Dick Cavett come back on tv. He has aged, but still is clever. Evanier often posts his NYTimes columns on his website and they are always a fascinating read.)


You now have a host of comments.

I trust this has made your day.


lyle e davis
The Paper

Escondido, CA.

Lyle said...

I forgot.

I posted the website but not my email.

Should you ever wish to reach me I'm easily available at:

(We are a weekly paper, serving North San Diego County with 20,000 copies each week. Eclectic, good humor, solid cover stories, interesting columnists.)

CANDA said...

Earl, Ken Levine's blog often gives readers questions to respond to, particularly on Friday's. He also writes reviews of TV or film, and people respond to that. Or he's hawking books.He's usually extreme in his opinions.

You are more of a gentle Canadian with integrity, with wit, making good observations. You'd never succeed in Talk Radio. Levine would.

As for meeting a guy at a party who said 80 percent of the country agrees on everything, you've been in California too long, where 80 percent of the people agree that they're Democrats. Unfortunately, they don't control the State government, which has a mind of its own, is controlled by its unions, as well as Corporate interests.

The Tea Party, on the other hand, has always been opposed to the Corporations getting the tax breaks, and the banks being bailed out. They are more populist than the media would lead you to believe.

But, in the end, the special interests control both parties, which is why we are really in a mess. Blaming the Tea Party gives the Democrats a free ride, which is what they want you to think.

Neither party is very interested in the middle class, no matter what they say. Even the Affordable Care Act was a boost for several special interests - insurance companies, trial lawyers, and so on.

Junior Gilliam, Sr. said...

I concur w/Lyle's comments (except for 'c' - don't ever recall you missing several consecutive days - just weekends). There are many topics that do not interest me and yet, here I am, reading it anyway, because sometimes it's not what you say, but how you say it. I've made several comments over the years, posed a few questions here and there, one of which you did address. But only one. And it is your blog and of course, your choice.

Just had a local news story (Seattle area) of a restaurant owner in a burb who claims that when he declined to pay for an ad on Yelp, that they turned against him and started a campaign of negative reviews about his eatery. Tough to prove but certainly not beyond comprehension. I would not be surprised if it's true.

Anyway, I'll continue to read and on rare occasions, I will comment. But the Silent Majority still lives!

(One other thing: the section just below this box - Prove you're not a robot - is often times very difficult for me to read. Example: I have no idea what it is right now, and it's my 2nd attempt. I know, you have nothing to do w/that.)

Wendy M. Grossman said...

As others have said, people are more motivated to comment when the host acknowledges and responds to at least some of the comments. I noted the general lack of comments when I started reading here, and decided to "help" by persistently commenting whenever I found something relevant to say. Until today, I had no idea whether my "help" was welcome or not. Your acknowledgement will keep me "helping" for quite some time to come.

I hope it's what you wanted. :)

btw, re the captchas. I see that Blogger has changed the system its using again. In this one, posters may be interested to learn, the distorted word is the test; the clear word is in fact a tiny bit of OCR'd text we're being used to check. I resent not being asked permission to demand my time in this way, but the goal is honorable.

Anonymous said...

You and Ken are the only two blogs I read/check every day(except yours on weekends when you take a break :) ).

Ken is Las Vegas, you are more like the remote brook or island beach, contemplative but thoroughly enjoyable.

You inspire more introspection whereas Ken encourages and writes posts that garner feedback.

Enjoy both for different reasons. Just my take but thanks for the posts always enjoy them!

Rebecca said...

I sometimes go a few days without reading your blog. But I have them in a feed reader, so I will then read several at a time as I did today. I thoroughly enjoy your blog, and hope you will continue writing even though you don't get much feedback.

I rarely comment anywhere, not just here, but that doesn't mean I'm not reading. It doesn't even mean I'm not enjoying.

To this particular post I will say what I recently said on Twitter:

Our system is not broken...or, not as broken as it seems. We are simply not taking advantage of it. The low percentage of people who vote is something we've come to take for granted, but it is totally unnecessary.

It is the huge Get Out the Vote effort that got Obama elected, both times. But the first time was much more of a struggle. The second time was closer than it should have been, in my opinion, because Obama disappointed so many of the people who had turned out for him the first time.

But once you get people used to voting, they will go out again more easily than getting them to go out the first time.

The thing is, people need to be *motivated* to make the effort. And there may not be 80% agreement, but there is no question that the more people who vote, the more progressive the electorate gets.

In my opinion, low percentage voting elects assholes. So when people like Russell Brand say voting doesn't work, and he's never voted. I would say that the system isn't working BECAUSE he isn't voting.

The results GOTV have gotten here in the states is proof of that. I went many years without voting, but seeing the difference we've made in the last several years has me motivated to vote even when I am less than pleased with my I was in this last election, and as I'm expecting to be in the next.

But I'm liking the trend, so I will continue to make the effort. With the population getting younger and not full of such stupid bigotry and greed, I'm feeling much more confident about the future of this country. And that's worth the effort.

And just for the hell of it, I'll add that I don't believe in states' rights. We are a country and we just have one set of laws across the board.

In fact, I believe that, by now, it should be a hell of a lot easier to use a cell phone, get insurance and a bank account all over the world than it currently is.

There is no reason this should lead to complete loss of the individual color of various locations. I do all of that in both Las Vegas and New Orleans and they are still nothing alike.

Okay, so when I comment, I sometimes actually write a blog post of my own. But there you go.